And now the teaser you past #TeamDearg fans have been waiting for 😉 Some of you will note I’ve changed “Eddie” to “Freddie” in this version. One big reason was because I didn’t want too man “E” names. Yes, that is a real thing writers think about. The other reason is because I wanted him to appear simple and somewhat silly to Amie, until this scene in particular…
Silver Hollow 2018 Edition Teaser
What initially seemed minuscule was in fact a spacious apartment filled with warmth though none of the grandeur of the castle. Freddie only let her go to set her in a large rocking chair by an empty fire pit. Then he went to work, wrestling the coals from their ashen slumber, piling on the kindling and freshly cut wood, breathing the sparks back to life. For a moment his hair seemed to gleam a bright copper, his skin glowed and from the tips of his fingers sparks dripped and caught the wood with magical flame. All this he did without a glance for her. Still the man gave Amie the oddest feeling of being watched even when his eyes were focused anywhere but.
In silence he waited until the flames fanned brighter, higher. When he did look at her again he carried the heat of the fire within his blue eyes, glanced over her wet form and grimaced. Then Eddie did the one thing Amie least expected.
He spoke. “You should take off your clothes, unless you want to die in them.” His rasping voice was so matter-of-fact it was chilling. Amie froze.
“Are you kidding me?” Amie started when his eyes lifted briefly to hers, dark and emotionless, empty, and knew there was no argument here. “You’re serious.” With a half-hearted grin, she said, “I can make my own heat, thanks.”
“Not good enough,” he said. “Seelie or nay, you’ll freeze and they’ll blame me.”
“Fine,” Amie huffed, “but could you turn around at least? You’re making me nervous.”
He dutifully turned back to the fire, hunched over his bent knees, and waited. Amie’s fingers trembled as she peeled away the outer robe. The drenched velvet was impossible with her hands numb and the fabric sticking like a second skin. “Could–could you help me with this?” she mumbled.
Glancing up from behind auburn bangs, he rose and came behind her. Amie shivered as she pulled her thick wet locks over her shoulder to give him better access. Her hands fell lifeless at her sides while he pulled the coat back off her shoulders. The heat from his hands ghosted trails down her arms, where it clung stubbornly. His breath brushed the back of her neck as he tugged it free and the last of the weight lifted.
Amie watched curiously as he balled the fabric and stumbled back as if she had burned him. She wondered why he was so alone and yet seemed desperate to push everyone else away. Now, she wanted him to look at her again, to reconcile why she felt such lingering pain when their eyes met. She wondered if he had woven some spell over her in a shadowed past life.
What he did next broke whatever spell she imagined he had, because he threw her house coat on top of the fire. Sparks flew up the brick chimney, high above to a metal-lined hole sticking out of the hill itself, illuminating their tiny world.
“What the crap, man!” She dashed past him to save the fabric but he barred the way with his hard chest. “Ouch!”
He grunted. “‘Twas ruined. The ashes you rolled in made certain of that.” He pointed to her nightdress. “Better get rid of that too. Throw it in the fire. I’ll get you something else. They’ll never know where you were.” As he turned Amie gaped at his retreating back.
How did he know?
In his absence, Amie made quick work of her dress and undergarments until she stood naked beneath Freddie’s blanket. Again she pushed aside an undercurrent of fear over the fact she was standing so exposed in a stranger’s house, nevermind he worked for her family. She didn’t know him. She shouldn’t even be here, really. She wasn’t sure now if her current state of madness was due to Excalibur or lack of potions. She wondered why she was listening to Freddie Cutterworthy of all people, the one person in the Hollow she had made an effort to keep away from. Once again her thoughts turned to Emrys…who left her behind, who made her feel…and blamed him for leaving her at the mercy of strangers.
“If he shows his stupid sexy face again, we’re going to have some serious words, or he may find himself without balls,” she muttered under her breath.
“This should do.”
She gasped when Freddie came from behind her with a pile of clothes in his arms. He hesitated, gaze making a slow trail over her bare legs. Amie tried not to notice his dumbstruck expression as she pulled the blanket back over her exposed shoulders. “Set those on the floor and turn around, would you?”
He blinked, coughed and obeyed in quick, jerking movements. Amie wasted no time slipping the borrowed fabric on. Though the dress cinched snugly at her waist and the sleeves were a bit short, it was an ideal match. She frowned as she pulled a pair of striped stockings up her thighs. These were similar to the maid uniform, save the green stripes were faded, the style subtly different. Amie wondered why Freddie Cutterworthy would own women’s clothes at all and eyed him from beneath her lashes as he held his hands out to the fire.
He didn’t look like a cross-dresser.
What remained of her clothes was melted in a sudden fit of multicolored flames. When nothing but ashes remained, the tea kettle sounded.
When did he put tea on?
Freddie brought all the usual ingredients in on an ornately carved wooden tray. “How many gooseberries you fancy in your tea?” His accent was so peculiar, closer to Slaine’s brogue yet not so distracting he had to repeat himself. Annoyance flickered in his eyes again before it was beaten back down.
“Two, please,” she finally said, taking the cup shoved beneath her nose. The tea was perfect of course. Gooseberry was the sweetest thing Amie had tasted in her life, hands down. She was convinced they could market this and sell it if they wanted to. She drank nervously while he merely watched, hands folded beneath his chin.
Unable to bear the silence another second, Amie blurted the first thing that came to mind. “I know you hate me.”
Freddie nearly choked on his tea. “Pardon?”
“There’s no use denying. I’ve seen the way you look at me, or rather avoid me like the plague. Not that I blame you. I have a bad habit of getting my friends in trouble…”
Or worse, her guilty conscience provided.
Freddie frowned, lips thinning but he didn’t bother correcting her assumption.
“It’s okay, you know,” she offered, setting the empty cup back on it’s saucer. “I don’t mind that you hate me. It’s a relief in some ways. Everyone else is just dying to help me fulfill my chosen one destiny. I’ve never had so many people try to befriend me before.” She shook her head and wondered what Faye and Jo would think if they saw her now.
“I don’t hate you.”
She sucked in a sharp breath, surprised by the deep sorrow in his eyes. No one with such a young face should have such cold, ancient eyes. When he made no move to elaborate, she filled the rest in. “Shame. I was starting to like you for hating me.”
The corner of his mouth turned up into a slow but sure grin that shrank the awkward elephant in the room. The way he studied her was so dispassionate yet full of measure. Whatever he was looking for in her open expression, Amie hoped she passed the test.
to be continued…
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